Linking stress and blood pressure challenges researchers

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Even though many researchers have studied the link between high blood pressure and stress, there's no proof stress by itself causes long-term high blood pressure. It may be that other behaviors linked to stress — such as overeating, drinking alcohol and poor sleep habits — cause high blood pressure.

Researchers have also studied the link between heart disease and mental health conditions related to stress, such as anxiety, depression, and isolation from friends and family. While it's thought that these conditions may be linked to coronary artery disease, there's no evidence they're linked to high blood pressure. Instead, it may be that the hormones produced when you're emotionally stressed may damage your arteries, leading to heart disease. It may also be that being depressed or hopeless may cause self-destructive behavior, such as neglecting to take your medications to control high blood pressure or other heart conditions.

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